Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy National Library Week

"When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser."

This quote is from Keith Richards' upcoming autobiography. According to the London Times, he confesses in his book that he has harbored a secret longing to be a librarian. Growing up in post-war London of the 50's, he found refuge in books, before discovering the blues.

Also from the article:

"He has even considered “professional training” to manage thousands of books at his homes in Sussex and Connecticut, according to publishing sources familiar with the outline of Richard’s autobiography, which is due out this autumn. The guitarist started to arrange the volumes, including rare histories of early American rock music and the second world war, by the librarian’s standard Dewey Decimal classification system but gave up on that as 'too much hassle.' He has opted instead for keeping favoured volumes close to hand and the rest languishing on dusty shelves."

Um, raising my hand here...."Keith...I'll be your personal librarian. I'm offering my services as a fully-credentialed ninja warrior librarian who will whip your collection into shape in no time. Travel is not a problem. Just fly me back and forth to London and Connecticut and Kansas on your private jet. Throw a Blackberry into the deal and I can even catalog your books while in transit! "

But back to what Keith said. Libraries are here for everybody. I love the story I heard from a branch manager who visited one of my library classes. She said they get a lot of truck drivers who check out audio books for their time on the road. We had been talking about using circulation statistics to find out what people are checking out, so I raised my hand and asked, "How did you know those patrons were truck drivers?" (Did they have some way of gathering this data?) The branch manager laughed and said, "Because they tell us!" She described a bunch of ways she tries to interact with patrons and get out in the community to find out what they want and need. She was very enthusiastic about this part of her job. She made me want to become a public librarian (at least for a few minutes.)

At the moment, I am sitting in Javanaut in Westport sipping a London Fog, (which is Earl Gray tea made with steamed and foamed milk) and trying to piece together coherent responses to the questions on my comprehensive exam. The Javanaut is the perfect spot for this. It is a two-story house on bustling 39th street that has been made into a coffeeshop. There are rooms downstairs, but I like carrying my latte and laptop upstairs to one of the bedrooms. The rooms are not furnished like bedrooms, of course, they have coffeeshop-type tables and chairs, but it still feels like you're intruding on somebody's house. I got here early, so I was able to grab the room with the window that overlooks 39th street and that looks across to Havana Moon, a smokeshop, the State of the Art picture framing shop, and the Jerusalem Cafe, which serves up hookah pipes.

I took today and tomorrow off to work on the exam. As I read about these topics, I realize that two years of library school has had an effect on me. Although I would bloody well prefer not to have to do this exam at all, I kind of like thinking about libraries. I like talking about library services, and the future of libraries. I even find the exam questions interesting. Well, not the question about shared leadership and decision-making. Bleh. That type of administrative-speak just makes my eyes glaze over. But the other stuff.....in a weird way I'm kind of enjoying this.

Or maybe that's just the London Fog talking.


  1. some of my fondest memories are all about going to the library with my girls when they were young. funny this post came today....i was just emailing laura, telling her to seek out the libraries and/or museums in her travels. yay books!

  2. Yes, and it's fun to visit libraries in various cities and see how different they are! The Seattle Public Library, for example.....

  3. Libraries rock!!!! That's why Keith Richards loves them.

  4. That's awesome Simone! I'm glad you are slowly but surely embracing your obvious calling--ha! You are inspiring me :)